Every week I get around twenty emails from people asking me how I came to be a “Shaman” and/or how they really enjoyed their first Shamanism class so I should give them free guidance, advice, and support. I put these emails in a different category than people seeking to work with me, to have a session with me, or interest in my programs where I teach people how to work in a spiritual manner.

These are emails from people that are looking for free advice (at this point I get about 150 of those a week in general), free guidance, free support… typically with a heavy dose of entitlement and new-ageisms such as “I don’t think money should be a part of the spiritual path” or “this is a path I must walk alone so I don’t need a teacher” with the intended effect, despite my contact form saying that I receive too many emails to be able to respond to without going insane, of me seeing how “special” the person is and responding to them because dammit they deserve it and, in fact, are entitled to it.

They are entitled to my time, my energy, and my expertise simply because they want it, and they want it now.

And they never see the irony of the fact that they are asking for advice and guidance from someone while at the same time espousing how they must walk their path alone, or that they don’t need a teacher. They really don’t get how entitled they are, and how this is, in fact the least “spiritual” thing you can be– to ask for energy, for anything really, for free– without offering anything of themselves in return.

And ironies of ironies, these are people who have not taken enough time to typically read any of my blogs (which are free, of course) to see that no, I do not want to awaken your Kundalini, and no, I do not think you are a Shaman. 

I was young once, but I was never entitled. I never thought that people should do something for me because I was special, because I wanted it, because I deserved it. I always respected all my teachers, and either paid with energy of my own (setting things up for them, bringing them gifts, doing healing work with them) or money. I was always thankful for what I received. When I did reply to emails like this a long time ago, when I was able to, I never got a thank you from them. They just wanted to take more and more of me, without even considering the fact that they were being entitled, or rude, or simply taking up my time in which I could be doing something else.

And before things get too grouchy and rant-filled (I am a work in progress, as we all are), I will state my basic reply to people. I will state that I have a tendency to be brutally honest, so if you do not want this brutal honesty, I suggest clicking away to Facebook or wherever now.

And before you think this is just about me, or whatever you may think, I will say that this is a huge problem in any field. A tech worker that I know gets inundated with emails asking to pick his brain for several hours, a famous astrologer I am friends with gets 100 or so emails asking him to teach him (for free) everything he knows, and another spiritual worker I know focused on folk magic gets many people asking her each week to tell them “what is hoodoo” and “tell me about magic” without evidently knowing about google.

So You Want To Be A Shaman? Or You Want to Do What I Do?

Well, I have discussed this word before, but I do not call myself a Shaman. I call myself a Spiritual Worker. There is a lot of complex politics with this, including not wanting to associate myself with new-agers who think that because they graduated a program they can call themselves a Shaman, or even a Shamanic Practitioner (what does that mean? Is a plumber a Plumber Practitioner?).

There is also the complex politics of not wanting to upset American Indians and other indigenous folks, some of whom I have had conversations with about this very issue. I understand their rage as a result of history (some of it misguided towards a word and something tangible rather than a collective history they cannot do much about), and the fact that the word Shaman has turned into something that white surfer dudes from California seem to call themselves, or people who have taken a few classes at a Holiday Inn call themselves. I only had to have someone show me a nineteen year old white chick in a bikini with a headdress once who called herself an “Indian priestess” to understand this rage.

There is also the fact that in most of my work I do not “go anywhere”. I have the understanding that everything is here– we are all a bunch of planes and spirits and energies compressed together. We do not have to “go anywhere”– that is a construct of our minds to make us feel better and to help us divide things. There is also the fact that I have learned much more than new-age Shamanism, and have a background in many different spiritual, magical/occult, folk practices, and bodywork, energy work, and holistic medical paths.

But back to you.

Chances are that you are not meant to be a Shaman or a Spiritual Worker. There, I said it. I am not meant to be an NBA player, or an architect, or anything having to do with technology or math beyond balancing my checkbook. It happens.

People who are intended to be spiritual workers can see and sense beyond right here, right now. It is something that has always been a part of them– they did not come into this interest twenty years after they were born. They did not come into this interest in middle-age with a complete mid-life spiritual crisis to “find themselves” once the kids are out of the house. They have always been strange, they have always seen more and thought more and seen differently than others. It is something that has been noticed in them since birth, most likely, even if in modern society we do not have the framework to understand what that “difference” is.

They don’t have a choice in the matter to be a spiritual worker. It is what they have been guided to, and they can’t do anything else with their lives (not for the sake of trying, by the way).

And rather than it making them “special” for most of them, it made them feel out of place, not accepted, a “freak”, most who would have (until they accepted and gained the appropriate skills, but sometimes even then) given anything to not be able to be so sensitive, to be able to see so much and hear so much beyond.

Because it is frightening. It still can be, to tell you the truth. It is frightening to go beyond illusion, beyond mental conditioning, beyond societal conditioning, into spiritual understanding.

There are so many worlds, planes, spirits, beings, energies, and just things (without name) out there… so many people screaming in agony for help silently, so much out there that most people do not ever see or sense. Not to mention thoughtforms, imprints, and emotions swirling around. Even most sensitives only notice a portion of it. With skill you can work with this, you can understand this, but it still doesn’t stop the fact that you see and sense it.

It is hard to have these realizations not affect you, basically.

Most people who have gone through spiritual classes, who have spent decades studying shamanism have never actually had a spiritual experience. They self create all of their “angels” and “guides” and whatever else they are creating out of their psyche. This way they can have a “native american” spirit guide who tells them how wonderful they are. This way they can feel safe, and be told that they are special, and feel special, without having to come into contact with anything outside of themselves.

Because if you come into contact with an actual angel, it will likely blow out your microwave (just saying). And nobody has ever explained to me how if you have a “Native American” spirit guide who is supposedly from the 1600’s (or whenever) that he talks just like you, agrees with you, and will tell you exactly what you want to hear. This is not how actual spirits or spirit guides are. And if something is from the 1600’s it will not talk or think exactly like you. And nobody has ever explained to me why they don’t have a Mexican spirit guide. 

Well, I can tell you why. Our first experience of new-age spirituality and “Shamanism” was through people who worked with Native American populations, and so that has entered our psyches as a “spiritual” culture– something that we should appropriate to be “spiritual”. It doesn’t matter that our “spirit guide” is something that we have co-opted based on magical thinking, we have read a Wikipedia entry about that tribe and so now believe we have a Native American spirit guide.

Being a spiritual worker is not a “magical” thing, something to do on weekends. It is a job. Is it a different job than an office job? Yes, of course. But the difference between doing something as a full time career (more than full time, as you will see below) and what many people romanticize about this work is quite different. It is no different than any self-employed job in many ways, and although you are dealing with the spiritual realms, it is really in many, many ways not different than being a self-employed piano teacher, or plumber, or massage therapist.

Being a spiritual worker– being able to see/sense/be beyond is tiring. It has gotten a lot easier for me, but I hear from people when they are at their worst, typically. I am happy to be of service, I wouldn’t replace that for the world, and I quite happy with my path, but it can be brutal… and tiring.

People who come to me have typically seen a few “Spiritual Practitioners” before me as well, which typically (not all the time, but often enough) means that they have been told that their issues/curse/spirit/whatever spiritual issue is happening is “all in their head”– because the “Spiritual Practitioner” has never accessed anything spiritual, they think it is all mental– most of New-Age Spiritual Practitioner-ing is based on psychological/mental constructs because that is where they, and we as a society are in consciousness– and they can just wish whatever is happening to them away with white light and positive thinking.

I am all for positive thinking by the way, but when the sea of modern-day practitioners is 99 percent “aspirational” and new-age, it is hard for someone who does actual spiritual work, it is frustrating for someone who does spiritual work, to combat the whole sea of aspirational types.

Spiritual Initiations happen– a lot– if you are intended to be a spiritual practitioner. It is the reality of the job. You are always learning, always unfolding. In many ways this is wonderful– you become more of who you really are, you understand things at an incredibly deep level. But the sort of tests and changes that happen are tiring. There is no “I will do some spiritual work this weekend” or at my next workshop, it is 24/7 365. This means that I do not get a day off. I am constantly immersed in spiritual activity, spiritual initiations (these come and go, but are intense), and my spiritual life.

Again, this can bring great joy, freedom, and an ability to realize things on a deep level. But it also means that I do not get a break. Pretty much ever.

This work is 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Just in case that wasn’t clear. It is wonderful if you want to take a weekend workshop to “find your guide” or whatever. Those of us who are spiritual workers are constantly immersed in spiritual activity– there is not enough palo santo in the world to stop the realizations, the understandings, the initiations, and the experiences.

This is a path of joy, of understanding. Before things get too dire– I will say that I am truly happy to be walking this path. But in order to get to where I am you can read my resume and the immense amount of education and preparation I had to do to get where I am. I spent ten years of my life just focused on healing myself and learning how to deal with what I see/sense/hear. And by that I mean that I spent that decade pretty much focused all on that and nothing else– and I really mean pretty much to the exclusion of anything else in my life for that ten year period.

This is not unusual from what I hear from most of my friends who are actual spiritual workers. If you want to be a “shaman” consider the fact that you need to have self-cultivation practices, likely for a decade or longer, that you need to be in training for over a decade, and that it is a continual training path to get to where I am or even further.

I have some teachers who have been spiritual workers, constantly immersed in the spiritual realms 24/7 for thirty, forty or fifty years… and they state that they are just at the beginning of understanding, just as I am.

There is a wide variety of b.s. out there that has created a culture in which you can pick up a book or attend a weekend class and “become” a Shaman. Try a decade, try two, or three, try several lifetimes or having an ancestral lineage filled with spiritual workers.

And that doesn’t mean anything for you, by the way… you can have all the natural gifts in the world, all the ancestors, all the natural innate power… it doesn’t mean you know how to use it in this lifetime. For most people, it is a huge stumbling block actually because they don’t know how to use their innate power.

So you want to be a Spiritual Worker?

Realize the immense amount of work and self-sacrifice. Realize that if you were one, you would have realized it, or the people around you would have realized it pretty much since birth. Realize it takes decades to be any good at it. Realize that it takes years of self-cultivation work to realize any power to be effective. Realize that most people are just playing in the mental realms and self-creating, and actual spiritual work and contact is much different. Realize the constant tests, initiations, and the 24/7 365 nature of this type of work. Realize that you will understand how much pain, chaos, and confusion there is in this world. Realize that you will realize that the whole world is an illusion, including most spiritual paths and teachers. Realize that you are not entitled to anything because you want to believe that you are “special”, and realize that that is just as much of an illusion of the new-age spirituality movement as anything else.

There is immense joy on this path, deep realization, deep connection to yourself and others. There is oneness, there is understanding. There is also, at the same time, isolation, and difficulties, and contending with the fact that you think differently, see differently than most of the world.

So yes, you can be happy, you can be in oneness,  you can fully realize who you are and what you are intended to do in this world… and you can still be isolated by the experiences, understandings, and realizations that you have. This is the path. Tread lightly.